Give, not Give Up, this Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the season in the Christian church leading up to Easter. As a child, I would give up sweets and so would my friends. But through the years instead of giving up and seeing this time of year as doing without for 40 days, I changed it. I decided to do something positive, simple tasks, like smiling more, helping others if I see they need it. I’m not speaking just about family but strangers, those I meet in the supermarket, or other public places, maybe the park. Have you seen a mother struggling with a toddler and a buggy? Have you asked her if she needs help to lift it up the steps to the library, train/bus platform?

So as this Lenten season begins it got me thinking more. How can we bring this side of life, the positive, the good in us out, and show respect for others, through our writing? Which led me to my characters.

Do your characters in your novels/stories have manners? I am a big believer in saying thank you to those who help me or show me kindness. When writing dialogue, do you include the words please and thank you where appropriate? Would your character hold the door open for those following them out the exit or entering the building? What about the older person trying to manage their shopping on the bus, give them their seat?

I guess what I’m saying is, today’s world is very fast and exclusive, instead of being inclusive and watching out for others. Every day we read of rising crime, attacks on people, violence etc. and often the films, the TV series, the video games are cited as being an influence. So if we influence people through these violent vicious nasty programmes can we not try to influence people by making our characters do nice things for each other? I know we must have our baddie, I’m not talking about our work being all sugar and sweet, but a simple thing like having a character say, “Pass me the coffee please,” or have your detective hold the door as he goes in to the police station while he’s thinking of his latest case. Simple gestures.

Maybe I sound daft, maybe I am daft, but it’s how I feel this Ash Wednesday. If enough of us show kindness and helpfulness, surely it can rub off on more and more. After all, a smile is the most contagious thing ever. So smile and make someone else feel good as well as yourself.

Published by marytbradford

Family is important to Mary and her writing reflects the ups and downs of it all, and what people go through daily. She has been writing short stories for several years and enjoys success with her fiction in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies both in Ireland and abroad, namely Germany, India, and the US. Her stories have been both short/long listed in various competitions. It was because of this success, Mary took the plunge and self-published her first collection of stories titled, A Baker’s Dozen (2012). When one of her stories kept growing she ended up with her first published novel, My Husband's Sin. This novel turned into a trilogy, with book 2, Don't Call Me Mum, and book 3, No More Secrets following it. Mary continues to write novels, novellas, and short stories, dabbling too in playwrighting. In 2019, Mary attended the University of Limerick and studied for a MA in Creative Writing, receiving First Class Honours. When taking a break from writing and reading Mary loves to crochet. Living in County Cork, Ireland, she is married and is a mother of four children. Having overcome open heart surgery in 2008, Mary made the decision to dedicate more time to her writing. With her children raised and starting to spread their wings, this became possible. Now, Mary is also a Nana, a role that brings her happiness and lots of love.

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